Matthew 11:20-24 Suffer Now, Or Forever.

Matthew 11:20-24 Suffer Now, Or Forever.

John was faithful in proclaiming a message of repentance, and for this reason woe was coming upon those who rejected that clear message. Mighty works attesting to the canonical truth that was proclaimed had been performed, and continued to be performed, but many chose their own sin over the truth. One of the truths that Jesus taught was that those who received greater revelatory truth would be subject to a stricter judgment for rejecting it. John may have been in prison for proclaiming the truth, but he would be destined for the kingdom of glory, while those who rejected his message would suffer in hell forever.

Matthew 11:1-19 John And Jesus.

With the advent of the Christ there is a transition in salvation history. Christ is the centre of history, but also its beginning and end. Among those who declared the canonical word, from Adam to Malachi, no one was greater than John the Baptist, not because of who he was, but because of the epochal role he played in the history of redemption. Thrown in prison for preaching a message of repentance, John himself wondered if his faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah was misplaced. Jesus had just been teaching his apostolic witness bearers about their roles as the instruments of continued canonical witness, and now he reflects on the place of John.

It would be sadly misleading for anyone to think of John as a Baptist as is understood today. Neither he nor Jesus believed that the kingdom of God was only for those who are adults making their adult confessions. In fact, concerning nursing infants, Jesus affirmed that such were the quintessential members of the kingdom, knowing their full dependence on the Master, and not on their works of confession or practice. Jesus reminded John, via the disciples he had sent, that with Jesus there were the signs and seals of true canonical testimony, and that those who are not offended to be followers of Jesus the Christ would be blessed indeed.

John was more than a prophet, because he was tasked with being the forerunner of the Messiah in the flesh. His message of repentance which would precede the call to faith, is still the pattern to be followed in the proclamation to this day, and ever shall be. Nevertheless, even the least member of the kingdom, perhaps a nursing infant, is greater than John, for now the Messiah has come. “For all the prophets and the law prophesied till John” (v. 13). The whole of the canonical word pointed forward to the advent of the Messiah, and the establishment of his reign. As in that generation, so also in ours, many seek to be entertained rather than hear a message of repentance and faith.

John lived a life of restraint, in fasting and prayer and deprivation, for his was a message of repentance and longing for the Lamb of God to come. But with the advent of Jesus the Christ it was a time to rejoice, for salvation full, rich, and free would find its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus – he who came to save his people from their sins. But those who rejected the need for repentance, looking as they did to their own supposed righteousness, scoffed at both John and Jesus, because their hearts were not set on the canonical testimony to the kingdom. Jesus continues to bring division, between those who seek to build their own self-righteous kingdoms, and those who confess their sins and place their faith in the Savior.

Matthew 10:32-42 A Confessing Family.

Matthew 10:32-42 A Confessing Family.

There is a cost to confessing Christ. However, there is also a cost to not confess Christ. A true Christian will never be denied. Family may deny a confessing Christian, but the family of the heavenly Father and his Son is of greater import. To take up the cross of confession marks one as worthy to bear the name ‘Christian’. All who seek to hang on to people and things as being more important than the Lord God will lose all they hoped to save. The apostles, or sent ones, and indeed all who confess Christ, walked and do walk the same path as the prophets and all the righteous ones of the past – duty to the Master with the ultimate reward from the Father. No work is too insignificant, even the giving of a cup of cold water to a fellow believer, including “little ones.”

Matthew 10:27-31 Blessed Providence.

Matthew 10:27-31 Blessed Providence.

At verse 26, which ended the previous passage, Matthew stated the following from Jesus. “Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” Jesus had been talking about the persecutions that would be coming to his apostles. They were to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves, but they would still be persecuted for his name’s sake (vv. 16-18, 21ff.). They were told not to worry, because as his apostolic witnesses they would be given the words to write and speak for the new canonical revelation, which would be their chief mission. They would be ambassadors of the canonical word of the King (vv. 19-20).

They need not fear this persecution, because like the prophets earlier, their words would be of divine inspiration, that which the Lord God had kept covered and hidden, would through them be revealed and known. For this reason, they were to take what he had communicated to them in the dark, and whispered in their ears, so to speak, and as his apostolic canonical witnesses speak and preach it for all to hear (v. 27). Their persecutors ultimately only had power over their bodies, but the Lord God holds the destiny of their bodies and souls for all eternity. It was the Lord’s message they were called to speak and preach, and therefore it was him alone whom they were to fear (v. 28).

The great assuring doctrine of divine providence would be their comfort. Men may persecute to the point of murdering them, but even something so seemingly final and obviously severe, was and remains under his sovereign providential will and purpose. Even things so seemingly insignificant as the number of sparrows in the world, or more insignificant still, the number of hairs on our heads, are under his sovereign command (vv. 29-30). Again Jesus says “Do not fear therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows” (v. 31). The great ‘therefore’ in life, and the secret of being content, is that God is in total sovereign providential control of all that happens in the affairs of this life and the one to come.

Matthew 10:16-26 A Time Of Revelation.

Matthew 10:16-26 A Time Of Revelation.

The apostles, and indeed all the followers of Jesus, are as sheep among the wolves of the world. There are those who are hell bent on silencing the gospel and all those who bear it. We need the cunning of a snake, but the seeming harmlessness of doves (v. 16). There were men among their own countrymen, whom the apostles were to be mindful of, who would resist the gospel to the point of seeking their arrest and punishment (v. 17). Both Jew and Gentile would oppose them (v. 18). The apostles had a unique mission as the bearers of the new covenant scriptures. To this end the Spirit would give to them the words they were to preach and teach (vv. 19-20). The gospel message was one that would set family members against each other, even to delivering one up to die (v. 21).

They would be hated, but all who endured to the end would be saved. Part of the good news was that his people would be preserved to the end. Persecution would be a means of their moving on to another city, until the Son of Man would come to finally put an end to the old covenant era (vv. 22-23). They, and all who follow Jesus hereafter, cannot expect to be treated any better than was he, for a disciple is not above their master (vv. 24-25a). Since many believed that Jesus had his power from Satan, his disciples should not think themselves to be regarded as any different than he (v. 25b). However, since he promised them perseverance to the end, they need not fear. There was coming a time of great revelation, when all that was hidden heretofore, would be made known (v. 26).

Matthew 10:1-15 The Apostolic Mission.

Matthew 10:1-15 The Apostolic Mission.

Jesus gave his apostles the power to do what he had been doing – casting out demons and healing the sick. Even Judas is included, which shows that one can have this power without knowing the Lord in a saving way. Jesus’ approach at this time was to go only to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (v. 6). It was a time of transition, the last days of the old covenant era. The kingdom of heaven was at hand, with the coming of the promised Messiah (v. 7). In addition to casting out demons and healing the sick, they were given power to raise the dead (v. 8). This was real labour for the apostles, so they were to be sustained by the church for this work (vv. 9-10). Anyone who greeted them with this help were to be blessed with peace, but any who would not receive the gospel were not to enjoy this peace (vv. 11-13). To reject the gospel message was to be guilty of a covenantal cure, demonstrated with a shaking off of one’s feet from what would be unclean (vv. 14-15).

Matthew 9:35-38 Shepherds Needed.

Matthew 9:35-38 Shepherds Needed.

Jesus went about teaching, preaching, and healing among the people (v. 35). “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd” (v. 36). Jesus is the Great Shepherd, but in his earthly incarnate ministry he could only be in one place at one time. It is important to notice that there were three key things that were involved in shepherding the flock – teaching, preaching, and healing. Although ministers today do not perform works of direct physical healing, they are engaged in spiritual healing, or should be. In many ways this kind of healing is much more challenging to see positive results. If one is healed instantly of a physical ailment, then the outcome is obvious, but with spiritual healing it takes time to see change happening for the individual and community.

There is another important point to glean from this passage, and that is the reality that it takes a shepherd to lead and guide a flock. There were multitudes of people that were gathered around Jesus so that it was impossible for him to personally attend to each individual.  Today one might conceive of one man preaching to huge crowds, and perhaps even teaching, but it would not have the same impact of a more intimate connection, such as is also necessary for healing. For this reason Jesus empowered the apostles to go out and perform the same works as he was doing, only they would do so in his name, not their own. The harvest is still plentiful, and the labourers are still few (v. 37). This must still be a matter of prayer, that the Lord would continue to raise up shepherds to teach, preach, and heal in his name to the whole world.

Matthew 9:32-34 A Demon Possessed Mute Man Speaks.

Matthew 9:32-34 A Demon Possessed Mute Man Speaks.

It would be one thing to be demon possessed, but to not be able to voice one’s suffering would have been doubly hard (v. 32). If the man was able to speak we may imagine that the demon would confess that it knew who Jesus was and was afraid, as happened in other cases. In any case, the fact that the man was able to speak was a testimony itself to his deliverance. There is little doubt that a person’s own personal testimony is a powerful witness to Jesus as the Christ, which is brought into sharp focus when a mute man speaks, and the people who knew him all along were amazed (v. 33). More amazing still is the obstinacy of the Pharisees, who accused Jesus of healing the man by the power of the Devil (v. 34). However, as Jesus will say a little later, it made no sense for Satan to destroy his own little fiefdom (12:22ff.).

Matthew 9:27-31 Two Blind Men Are Healed.

Matthew 9:27-31 Two Blind Men Are Healed.

Not being blind, one can only imagine the challenge these two blind men faced, but for them it was their once in a lifetime hope. They had each other, but they wanted their sight, and they believed that Jesus could give that to them (vv. 27-28 Cf. 20:29-34; Mk. 10:46ff.; Lk. 18:38-39). According to their faith they were healed (v. 29). Obviously it was not their faith, in and of itself, that healed them, it was who they had their faith in. It seems peculiar that Jesus would instruct them to be quiet about the miracle (v. 30). He said the same thing to the leper, only that he follow the Mosaic legislation for no longer being leprous (8:4). It may have been that Jesus still had much to do before his impending death and did not want the focus taken off the redemption to come through his death and resurrection. In any case, one can well understand that these men could not keep silent (v. 31). A person who committed forgery would certainly not want the recipients to be silent.

Matthew 9:18-26 Healing And Delivering Power.

Matthew 9:18-26 Healing And Delivering Power.

In worshipping Jesus, which Jesus did not refuse, the ruler who came to him on behalf of his sick daughter, was confessing that Jesus was both God and man, for only God is to be worshipped (v. 18 Cf. Lk. 8:41-56). This is a stupendous theological understanding and commitment, one which many stumble over to this day. He also believed that if Jesus laid his hand on his daughter that she would live. Based on the man’s faith, Jesus and his disciples arose and followed the ruler back to his home (v. 19). While they were walking there was also a woman who suffered from a continuous flow of blood, who believed if she but touched the garment of Jesus she would be healed (vv. 20-21).

From Matthew one might get the idea that Jesus spoke healing to her before she was able to touch him, but Luke records that she did touch the border of his garment and was healed. It was because she touched the border of his garment in faith, that he felt power flow out. His words were therefore words of comfort to the woman, commended for her faith, and offered peace (v. 22 Cf. Lk. 8:48). When they arrive at the ruler’s home, they found mourners wailing her death (v. 23). But for Jesus her death was only temporary, and he was thus ridiculed by the crowd v. 24). But Jesus took her by the hand the girl arose (v. 25), because he has power even over death, and this report spread through that land (v. 26).